Momentum in St. Louis Park | Fair Vote Minnesota


Momentum in St. Louis Park

Dear St. Louis Park friends, 

Thanks to everyone who attended Monday’s standing-room-only study session on Ranked Choice Voting in St. Louis Park! More than two dozen RCV supporters showed up, helping influence city council members and the mayor. Following the discussion, five of the six council members expressed their support for moving Ranked Choice Voting forward for further discussion and approval.

FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey presented background on Ranked Choice Voting and the experience of using RCV in Minneapolis and St. Paul, along with observations on its impact. Among the highlights: 

  • St. Louis Park has experienced competitive three-way primaries in the past five election cycles, including the current Ward 1 race. Without a primary, many future elections will result in candidates winning without a majority (50% + 1) of votes.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul (and other cities across the country) have experienced successful transitions to RCV.
  • Voters have quickly adapted to the new system, expressing appreciation for its ease of understanding and use. Not surprisingly, most prefer RCV.
  • RCV has led to increased voter turnout in races that use RCV.
  • Successful use of RCV in Minneapolis and St. Paul provides a framework for communities like St. Louis Park to make the switch without “reinventing the wheel.
  • The League of Women Voters and FairVote Minnesota stand ready to assist St. Louis Park in conducting RCV voter education and outreach.

(See the full presentation here, as well as the staff report provided to the City Council before the meeting.)

Amid a lively discussion among council members, the mayor, and city, several questions were raised about the process of implementing the new system and tabulating results. Massey shared that Minneapolis has developed a highly transparent and fast system for tabulating RCV results – reducing the time to report results from several days to one – and that both Minneapolis and St. Paul anticipate fully automated tabulation systems by the next election cycle. 

She emphasized that all components to implement RCV — the election procedures, implementation steps, educational materials, training guides, tabulation method and results reporting procedures — are in place and adaptable for communities like St. Louis Park, minimizing start-up costs.

The discussion concluded with a strong show of support for moving RCV forward, and Councilmember Anne Mavity introduced a motion to do so. She acknowledged that while RCV represents an administrative change, it is within the city’s capacity and represents a worthwhile investment for the long term. She also reiterated that RCV is way to enfranchise and engage more voters. Councilmember Sue Sanger concurred and requested that the city move forward to be ready to implement RCV in the 2019 election cycle.

“I haven’t heard from one person that this is a bad idea,” Councilmember Sanger said. 

Councilmember Tim Brausen also agreed with the motion, noting that “I support anything that increases choice and participation.” Councilmember Thom Miller acknowledged that RCV is a more inclusive system and he was fully in favor. Councilmember Steve Hallfin added his support and expressed that RCV seems to be a fairer system. 

Councilmember Gregg Lindberg and Mayor Jake Spano were the only two to express some reservation. They requested additional information about the benefits and cost, and indicated a desire to hear more from the community. 

Next steps for you to help keep moving RCV forward: 

1. Before sending a proposal to the Charter Commission, the city council will hold another meeting to further discuss the cost and benefits of RCV.  We will let you know as soon as we know when that meeting is scheduled. Please join us!

2. Meanwhile, contact the mayor and council to thank them for holding this study session and for moving RCV forward for further discussion and consideration. Let them know why you want RCV for your local elections.  

3.  Follow up specifically with Mayor Spano and, if you live in Ward 3, with Councilmember Lindberg, to share how RCV improves local elections (see talking points).

4. Watch for opportunities for community education before the next council meeting. We’ll be collaborating with members of the council, the League of Women Voters, and other organizations to host information meetings and to hear from members of the community. If you are part of a group and would like to educate your colleagues about RCV, please let us know. We’d love to come and do a presentation.

5. Host a Rank Your Vote house party! We’d love to help you organize a house party for your friends and neighbors and conduct a mock RCV election with desserts, appetizers, wine or whatever you want to put on the ballot. Demo elections are super fun and effective ways to give people firsthand experience using RCV! 

6. Lastly, help spread the word about RCV by talking with your friends and neighbors. If you’re on Next Door, share the progress St. Louis Park is making in adopting RCV and why you think RCV if right for your city! 

Thank you for everything you are doing to make RCV possible in St. Louis Park. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or ideas for how to spread the word! 

Your FairVote Minnesota team

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